Losing my ducklings

“Peep peep peep!”

I call as I unlock the henhouse door. The goslings come waddling and peeping as fast as they can.

Right over the bodies of two of the ducklings. My breath catches in my throat as I unlatch the bottom half of the door and step in.

“No,” I whisper softly as I pick up the first limp body. “No.”

“Peep peep peep!” Call the geese excitedly. But I scarcely notice them. Seven ducklings sit huddled under the heat lamp. There should be eleven. I tear apart the henhouse looking for the other two but come up with nothing.

“Why?” I cry out as I sit in the litter amidst my peeping goslings, all jostling for my attention. “WHY?!”

The anger and the hurt and the despair begin to well up in my chest. I want to scream. I want to walk away and give up. I can’t do this again. I can’t keep trying and failing at everything.

I pick up the second body and feel as if I am looking at the death of a dream. Here in my hands lies my vision for what I want our property to someday be and it is dead and I cannot revive it.

I am giving up.

But this duckling looks different than the other. This one is missing its bill and its feet. I spot tiny gnaw marks on what is left of the bill and I realize my ducklings were probably attacked by a rat. A rat that will be back. I need to protect them.

I drag down the rabbit cage from the garage and make my seven survivors a nest in it. Nothing should be able to attack them in the cage. I look at my goslings. I can’t even bear to think how I will react if something happens to them, but there isn’t room in the cage for them. I look at the chicks on the other side of my makeshift nursery. I am not as worried about them. Most of them sleep on the roost now and with the light on in the henhouse, they are pretty active through the night. I think they are fast enough to get away from a rat.

But I’m not so sure about the goslings.

And I know the rat will be back.

About Dana

Dana homeschools her children on five acres in the country with her husband John.
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15 Responses to Losing my ducklings

  1. Dana, it may not work on rats but we have used a mix of peppermint & spearmint essential oils to repel mice before in the past. We had a terrible problem with them getting in underneath our dishwasher so we used one of those adsorbant puppy pads, poured the oils on it and slid it under the dishwasher to keep them away. It worked as long as we kept refreshing the pad with more oils. I also use clove to repel bugs in my milk room and I believe it is reported to work on mice as well, again not sure about rats. They are supposed to be repelled by cayenne too. So maybe try dusting the permimeter of the room they are in with it, outside as well as inside? So sorry for your loss & I pray you suffer no further losses of your precious ducklings.

  2. Heather says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Please do not give up on your dreams!!! Just for a short period of time could you move them into your house to protect them using a big box or a kiddie pool? I know it isn’t the ideal thing to do but better then your heart aching.

  3. Dana says:

    That’s what I was going to do at first, but then the other heat lamp went out and the goslings still need a little heat. The ducklings are safe in the cage. We are supposed to be getting another one, but we’ll see. If I could get everyone in a cage, I could always put the cat in with them for the night. I let her spend the night outside for the last two nights because she likes to hang around the barn and the henhouse and I think this particular rat may actually be the one we saw in the woodpile.

    But then I worry about her and coyotes so this isn’t really a long term solution.

  4. LeAnn says:

    So sorry, Dana. May your spirit see God’s call for your life and not the enemy’s roadblocks of discouragement! Rats….ugh!

  5. Rose says:

    Dana,
    I am so sorry!!! I truly understand what it feels like to fail at everything that you are working towards!!! I am in the same spot right now and it is so hard.

  6. Dana says:

    Now one of my ducklings is wheezing and lethargic. Sigh. One thing after another. :(

    I think it got chilled during the power outage.

  7. I’m so sorry…
    I know it matters.
    In a bigger way than most would understand…
    I remember two years after Selah died…and we hatched our first hatch.
    And the first little duckling died.
    And it hurt deeper and more–
    Than most would understand was “warranted” for a duckling.
    It mattered.
    This April will be four years…
    And still–
    When the chicks started to pip through…I prayed and cried over the little one who didn’t look like she would make it.
    But she’s here now. Thankfully.
    Beautiful life.
    It all matters…and I’m so sorry for your sad heart.

  8. Louisa says:

    That really bites….pun unintended. Our local feed store has a rat trap that is black like a big over sized clothespin – with a little pot for peanut butter…..it gets one EVERY night. In fact, our cats sometimes beat us to it and we find half a rat in the morning. Since we decimated the population with this $11.99 wonder, we haven’t had any problems…..(and the wonder is you just squeeze it open and the body falls in the trash – you don’t have to touch anything!!!)
    Good luck…..

  9. hippie4ever says:

    I’m so sorry. I’m praying for God’s protection.

  10. Tammy says:

    Oh{{HUGS}} So sorry to hear this….it DOES matter like the other poster said-I take my animals being sick or injured very seriously too-it just breaks my heart-as it was as I was reading this post. Prayers going out to you and the other ducklings.

  11. Dana says:

    I took losing our first chickens hard, but not like this. All losses have a way of connecting themselves together, and the same feelings are just brought back to the surface.

    I consdiered a rat trap, but I’m not quite sure where to put it so the chickens and other animals don’t get into it. I already have one dog that trips mouse traps so he can steal the peanut butter. I suppose I could put them inside a box of some sort like you do with weasel traps?

  12. Cathy says:

    I lost a Magpie duck to a skunk the other day. I thought it was probably a weasel but the trap caught a skunk. It was such a shock and horrible to see. She had been a great favorite. It turns out that she must have been the one laying the bluest eggs. So I through all the bluest eggs in the incubator. Losses are hard to take whether hatchlings or adult laying hens.

  13. Laraba says:

    I’m so sorry. I have not been through a loss like yours but even so, I am always upset when we lose one of our little poulty. We got meat chicks for the first time this year and out of 16, 2 died in the first couple of weeks. And now they are 7 weeks old and huge, and last week 4 more died! We think illness. Tomorrow they are being butchered and I am glad…just want to get them in the freezer and not worry about them dying suddenly from illness anymore.

    I pray you can protect them from that nasty rat!

  14. Grace says:

    I am so sorry. I have never owned little ducklings but I am such an animal lover…except of course rats…I do not like rats! I hope you can find a way to keep it away from your little babies.

  15. Jane says:

    I came across your page looking for info on rats taking my ducklings. How are things now? How did you go? I brought Mum in last night with the ducklings, she also sitting on some chicks, the hen & ducks are sharing each others eggs & babies! However I should have brought the eggs as well as each had their own nest & then I moved a few eggs into a nest, not sure how it went.
    I get the whole nature thing, yet it also taps into my emotions around not knowing what to do, how to save them & my best might not be enough. My son died at 3 & a half years & there is a place I find some experiences just tap right into x

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